Poems by Yoshioka Minoru

From A Season of Stupor (1940)
By Yoshioka Minoru (Tr. Eric Selland)

Spring

Morning hangs a silver coin on the legs of a butterfly
Inside the stem of a moisture-sensitive plant
A wedding without buttons begins
Oh sky that sleeps briefly in the smell of a phosphorous match
A white glove droops southward
Ennui that darkens into an artificial flower
Bodily temperature pasted upside down on the wall
The stains on the table soak up the cloudy sky
I forget the scale-shaped dream in the mirror of the railway station
And decorate the steeple with lost virginity and stars

Summer

Twelve minutes past nine on the morning of the syringe
Deep in the transparent heart of a woman on a balcony
Crushed powder falls from the eyes of a dragonfly
Idle hunters wearing abalone shells on their heads go
Along the edge of nose hairs spinning the rings of a rainbow
The sun melts on a slice of ice candy
And a chicken pecks at yellow spermatozoa on the floor tiles

A Season of Stupor (1)

Up the ladder of water
The season in which dazzle is lost
And the night wearing spectacles climb
The women perish in the smoke rings from a cigar
And the specks on the light bulbs shiver
On top of a chair listlessly turning
A fish with red eyes is all dried up

A Season of Stupor (2)

Inside an empty bottle of milk
Light-beams in a stupor and the acoustics of April
Penetrate like the ears of a tomcat, and faintly
Sunday collapses on the sand and is buried
When bread swells in the wind an egg flows into the water
And in the stucco, the shadow of a flower unfolds its hand and tilts
A man who has taken too many sleeping pills puckers his lips
And disgorges copper coins and wadded up bills
Towing the night, the bats fly around the funeral flowers

From Liquid (1941)

Elegy

The lamp goes out
A fox awakens
On the tip of a rusty fork
Sticking out of a skull
Its distance colder
Than the Northern Cross
Clasped tightly in the surgeon’s hand
Undulating toward the respiratory tract
And folded up in a wet evening paper
The young men talkatively
Kindle their wings
Inside the dirty dishes
And piled up on top of the fallen leaves
Are all swept away

The Night When Flowers Grow Cold

The trail of tears is broken
And the light in the distant window goes out
Night erupts and fills the garden
Untying its white bandages
Oh stars breathing at the tip of a needle
The flowers grow cold and cannot sleep

Melting Flowers
(for Yoko Nakamura)

The gods swell inside the veins of the spring leaves
Oh hills from which gold coins can be seen
A starfish sparkles atop a bible
Wetted by soap bubbles in the bath
The weathercock turns toward the night
And the youths sink into the white skin
A sock filled with holes and a butterfly
Drift ashore around the neck of an angel
The flowers melt in a cat’s saliva

Liquid I

At the moment the shadow of the green snake trembles lambently in the grains of crystal the letter arrives, and as the retina grows cold, spreading out toward the lake, it covers the bright torso of a sleeping woman; from the corner a red balloon, blazing and shrinking toward a southern town, springs out inside the brain, where varieties of crushed autumn glass begin to dissolve in saliva – the faint sound is transmitted through the leaves of the sacred bo tree, wetting the morning moon forgotten on the stone table on the terrace, like a feather

Liquid II

On the tip of the finger all manner of objects melt while the gods stripped of their powers in the empty sky quiver and sway, their accumulated existence touching an image of the moment; the blood is measured below the ice, and the duet separated from the branch loses its balance in a green hat, and while the abundant skin on both sides is made transparent, the promises and twilight spilled and forgotten on the various plants are caught in an opulent crown and without delay descend onto the map; the children are supported by a metal coated in seasonal winds and the morning donkey emerges from a ventilation tube to be crushed onto the surface of the water without a sound


from Seibutsu (1955)

Still Life

Within the hard surface of night’s bowl
swelling with brightness
the autumn fruits
apples, pears, grapes, and so on
poised one on top of the other
move toward sleep,
to one melody,
to a larger music,
extending into darkness
their nucleus slowly inclines,
the abundant decomposition of time
surrounding,
before the teeth of the dead
the various fruits
unlike stones
do not shoot out,
and collecting their weight
inside the deep bowl
in the image of night
from time to time
hugely tilt.

Egg

When God was also absent
and not a shadow of a living thing was present
neither does the smell of death arise
in the deep atrophy of the summer noon
from a crowded zone
things like clouds are torn away
and viscous matter is inundated
in a quiet place
a thing is born
something suggesting a life
polished with dirt and light
an egg occupies the earth

Praise

For me, an expansiveness is necessary
desire for echoes of fresh water
one night inside my room
I find a woman’s portrait
and am surprised at its immorality
but in another way am almost moved by it
can’t the functionality of the confusion
of objects be guaranteed?
In the corner of a destitute cafeteria
an inquiry
the death of a woman
now, for the very first time,
a woman has died in my house
the eyes of the woman in the portrait
recede from the frame
the star which had radiated
from within her hair
is cloudy and dislocated
after the whole human race has fallen asleep
in the world of cruel existence
I’ll find a new world
in the circle at the end of a piece of rope
the fruits of the Autumn trees,
which approach precisely
the reflecting sky
in search of dawn’s nail,
are immense
my hunger
and my thirst appear
morning’s lamp crawling over the earth
its fresh revelation of the egg on the table
unaccepted by anyone
my oscillation which is genuine
which surpasses fire, river and human
brushes off the dew covering my body
and despite dignity
I change largely
into a young egg-eating beast

Still Life

The night wraps them quickly up
the bones
temporarily placed
inside the fish
escape the ocean of stars
and are secretly dismantled
on the plate
then the light shifts to another plate –
there in its hollow
inherited by the hunger of life
first a shadow falls
then the egg is called in

Still Life

Attached to the cork
inside an empty bottle of wine
our throats
our thin bodies
beautiful snakes that tilt with the scale
our eyes do not have the weight of gold
what must be remembered is the sun
there is always a new distance
and our hearts
entwined in the long pipes of a horse’s intestines
circle around summer’s corridor
to a night sea where there are only jellyfish
half-drowned
our heads
breed things that do not shine

Haiku found amongst Yoshioka’s juvenilia

ゆく春やあまき切手の舌ざわり

Spring ends:
Sweet taste of postage stamp
Brushes tongue

梨畑の花の中よりタ煙

Smoke from the kitchens at evening
Rises from the flowers
In a pear field

赤貝のひらく昼なり雨遠し

Afternoon in which
The ark shells open
Rain distant

少女らは五月の胸を高くゆく

Young women
Walking high
Along the breasts of spring

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